New babies are adorable and just begged to be held, but if you're planning to stop by and visit new parents, don't forget your manners. Below are a few tips for making sure that your visit is welcome and that you get invited back!
- DO bring food or offer to help with something specific. In our case, having someone offer to walk the dog and get Brady out of the house for 15 min or so was a huge help. He needs love too!
- DO visit at a time that's convenient for the new parents, not at a time that's convenient for you. Adjusting to a new baby's schedule and developing a routine as new parents takes time, and there are lots of naps involved, so don't just show up and ring the doorbell. Call ahead.
- DON'T wear out your welcome. If you live in town, plan to visit for 15-30 min unless the new parents specifically ask you to stay longer. Having a revolving door of visitors can get exhausting, so they'll appreciate that you just "stopped by" and didn't stick around for hours.
- DO give the new parents some space. This particularly applies to out of town guests. If you're visiting a new baby, make your first visit a short one and consider staying in a hotel. Or, if you are staying with the new parents, plan an activity to get out of the house each day and give mom/dad/baby some alone time.
- DON'T come if you're feeling sick. Even if you're going to wash your hands before holding the little one, no parent wants their itty bitty baby exposed to your germs (and they don't want your germs either!).
We have loved hosting friends for dinner, game nights, and short visits since Henry has been home, but it took us a couple of weeks to get into a good routine and feel confident in our parenting abilities. The most helpful friends and family have pitched in by bringing us dinner, walking the dog, and helping to clean the house- none of these are glamorous tasks but they really go a long way and we have been SO appreciative.
Since we live far away from many of our family members, we've also had some out of town guests. I have to admit that this stressed me out a bit- I always feel the need to entertain visitors, and although everyone offers to "help", that can mean different things to different people. My advice: be prescriptive. Nobody should fault new parents for asking for what they really need help with. If someone offers, tell them that you need the living room vacuumed or a load of laundry folded. I went so far as to make a list of 10 ways that visitors could help us. The list includes things like making sure the kitchen/dishes were clean after a meal, cleaning the guest bathroom before you depart, etc. but it also had a line item for snuggling Henry after a feeding. Visitors are coming to see the baby, so make sure you give them SOME opportunity to do that, even if you're putting them to work!